An Eggcellent Way to Ruin Easter – Wal-Mart Edition

I have ranted before about the pitfalls and high level of customer disservice at Wal-Mart. This time though it is a matter of public safety. It could potentially be a matter of life and death.

April 2, 2010 – I wandered into the local Wal-Mart store (Oconee County, GA) around 8:00PM in search of something

Eggstra Big Disaster

Actual Photo - 13 hours unrefrigerated!

for the Easter Bunny to leave at my house. There was a large display of egg coloring supplies on a display rack, and on that rack cartons of what appeared to be candy eggs. As I approached the display I noticed that some of these “candy eggs” seemed to be oozing out of the bottom of the cartons. That’s when it hit me that these were not candy eggs, but real eggs sitting there unrefrigerated. WHAT? NO WAY! I opened a carton and sure enough, a broken egg greeted me with open shell.  What do I do? As a former restaurant manager, I know what the food safety guidelines are regarding such matters, so I touched the eggs to see if they were even still cold and they felt as if they had been sat on by a chicken.

I made my way to the customer service counter, and promptly asked to speak to a manager. I was asked if the customer service rep could help me. I explained the gravity of the situation to her and she ran to her supervisor who was also appalled. He called the manager on duty over and I explained to him the concerns in regard to food saftey and explained to him that I would not be purchasing food from his store any longer because I had no confidence that their food was being handled safely. I asked if he knew how long the eggs had been on the shelf. He informed me that the General Manager had asked them to put them out at 8:00 AM and that he had protested, but was told to put them out anyway. “That is 13 hours”, I gasped. “Someone could die if they eat those eggs”, I said. He agreed to remove the eggs from the display, and he did. I told him that I would have to trust that he was going to throw the eggs away and not put them back in the cooler. I still am not sure that they were discarded.

This morning, I contacted the General Manager and confronted him about his decision. At first he made excuses for why it was ok to leave eggs on display and told me that they were being rotated every two to three hours. Then I told him what was said by the manager the night before and the story changed to “I am sorry, I made a bad decision”. I asked him if he understood that his decision to put raw eggs out on display unrefrigerated could potentially kill someone, and he did. I explained that first I feel an obligation to my family to no longer shop in his store, because the safety of my family is more important than saving a few bucks. Next, I feel an obligation to the community to let as many people know that their food is potentially unsafe to eat. I explained that I would be notifying the Health Inspector and other health organizations, that I would be notifying local radio stations, newspapers, everyone I know on Facebook and Twitter as well as my family and friends, all of which I have done. He said that he wishes that he could take his decision back. I explained that in life we make decisions sometime that carry dire consequences, and that this one could cost his store a lot of business as well as costing someone their life. No Wal-Mart lawyer can bring back someones loved one.

I think that what bothers me most about this situation is that in 13 hours many Wal-Mart employees, managers and supervisors walked by that display and didn’t think a thing about it except for the manager that said that he protested. It bothers me that he didn’t take a stand for public safety and refuse to put the eggs out. It bothers me that no one cared enough until I explained the situation. Perhaps they don’t know any better (that’s another issue), or maybe they just don’t care. What i do know is that I will not be giving my business to a company who doesn’t have the safety of their customers at heart. I just hope, for the sake of Wal-Mart and the families involved, that some child doesn’t find one of those eggs under a bush on Easter morning, eat it and meet with ill results.

Here are some links on Egg Safety for your own education:

The Egg Safety Center

FDA Egg Safety

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5 responses to “An Eggcellent Way to Ruin Easter – Wal-Mart Edition

  1. Egg Consumer

    I don’t know about the regulations or how old the eggs are that we buy in the store but eggs are usually good for about three days after the chicken lays them. My friends with chickens put them in a #10 can and put them on the kitchen counter until they are gone.

  2. Egg Consumer

    That is they are good for about three days unrefrigerated.

  3. Not according to the FDA, the USDA and the National Restaurant Association. Hey, what do they know?

  4. Surfed into your blog while researching (Google) “intestines” … go figure.

    I am shocked that anyone would think that it is OK to leave eggs out for an extended period of time especially, 13 hours! I hear/read a lot of bad things about Wal-Mart and this is just one more item. It’s a shame, really. They have the ability to be a first-rate business in every community they position themselves. Hopefully, this problem was just with this one store. I live in Rockdale County, just a stone’s throw from Oconee County. I’ll remember your episode when I shop at my Wal-Mart and stay away from their eggs. I already refuse to buy any brand of milk they carry after purchasing a gallon of milk with an expiration date over a week into the future only to find it spoiled when I got home; they must have left it on the dock for a day before putting it away. I could have taken it back but why go to all that trouble when I had just unpacked the car. I simply won’t buy their milk again. Ever. Poured that whole gallon down the drain. It’s been about a year since that event.

    I don’t wish to beat up on Wal-Mart. Your entry was about eggs being left out. I wonder why Waffle House leaves their eggs in a basket above their grills all day long without any concern. What’s the story on that, I wonder?

    Any-hoo, enjoyed your article.

  5. I know people who raise chickens for eggs. In America, an eggs sold are washed, which removes the protective coating they are laid with. Farm fresh eggs directly from the farmer (or eggs from a backyard chicken farmer) can probably be left on the counter for a day or so if they have not been washed. I would not eat any egg from a grocery that has been left out until warm.

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